• Laura

The Adventure Begins

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

Out for a stroll on our last evening in San Francisco

Today, we leave San Francisco. It’s hard to believe the day is actually here. We made the decision to leave about a year ago. We settled on the time frame in the spring. We bought our plane tickets in June. And we’ll board our flight this evening.

The idea that we are ACTUALLY doing what we said we wanted to do – quit our jobs and travel internationally for 6+ months – is hard to wrap my head around. The closer our departure date has come, the more surreal it’s felt.

We had really nice lives here. Our careers were trending in the right direction. I was running a company I founded and cared deeply about. We have a wonderful group of friends. A rent controlled apartment. A new baby.

But it was one of those situations where it’s all right on paper and all wrong in reality. I was tired of being a CEO. We didn’t like the direction San Francisco as a city was trending (richer, whiter, more tech-obsessed). We never really formed a community in our neighborhood. We wanted to be closer to family. And then there was that nagging feeling that if we didn’t leap, we’d regret it.

We’d sort of meant to strap on backpacks and travel the world on the cheap in the past, but the timing never seemed right. I mean, we’d take vacations. A week here, two weeks there, long weekends sprinkled in between. But with jobs we were committed to, we didn’t see a way to make extended time off work. At one point I managed a sabbatical, but Mike didn’t have the flexibility to take as much time. We put our epic journey off. Then we got pregnant. And suddenly the window seemed like it was closing.

In September 2017, I got together with a group of women from my Stanford business school class for our annual self-facilitated retreat (more about this nerd girls weekend in a separate post). One of the sessions involved visioning future scenarios for your life, including a wild, if-only one. We went around the room and shared. Mine was travel writer. The other women in the circle looked at me. “You could do this.”

It took a minute but I realized they were right. Maybe no one would read my writing or pay me a dime for recording my thoughts, but it didn’t mean I couldn’t travel and it didn’t mean I couldn’t blog. We had some money saved up. I guess it could have been a down payment but that was certainly not in the cards in ever-more-expensive San Francisco, where we didn’t want to settle anyway.

It was the nudge I needed. I came home from that weekend and confronted Mike. “We’re quitting our jobs. We’re going to travel. I’m going to blog.”

We started talking about it. We didn’t have a time frame, and lots more had to fall into place before we could create one (I write about my choice to leave Code2040, which was gating factor, here). But now, jobs left behind, baby in arms, and almost exactly a year later, we’re doing it.

And, yes, we are doing it with the baby. For some reason this is the first question many people ask – “With the baby?” Yes. Yes, we are going to continue to parent our infant. It will be harder than a pre-parenthood trip, but we’re pretty sure it’s possible. And that it will be enjoyable.

The final thing that fell into place was that I got approached to be the American University of Rome’s first social entrepreneur in residence for the month of October. We’d decided what we were going to do, now we knew where and when we were going to start.

And so we bought our tickets. And now we fly. SFO-FCO. And, as promised, I’m going to blog. I’ll write about where we’re going, how we’re doing it, what lessons we’re learning about traveling with a baby. This blog will serve three purposes: 1) to share our experiences with our friends, family, and anyone else interested; 2) to keep a bit of a record for our daughter, who will be too young to remember the trip firsthand; 3) to try to inspire all the people who tell us that we’re living the dream that they can live their dream, too.

We’re going-pher it.

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